In Love - what to do about it?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

In Love - what to do about it?

Postby theAYSays » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:20 am

It's a question that I feel is frequently ignored or stepped aside from in Buddhism. But - I'm in love, and what can I do? I've been chanting mantras, including the Medicine Buddha's initiation mantra (I'm specifically thinking about his seventh vow where he talks about helping those without family attain a wealth of family, which I can only understand as enabling people to get married and have lots of children). I care so much about this girl and want to spend the rest of my lifetimes with her. Is there anything I can do besides accumulate more merits, chant mantras, and do prostrations?
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:39 am

As this is a Theravada forum lets sidestep the "medicine Buddha" :)

I see this is your first post :) welcome to Dhammawheel. Have you tried metta bhavana? In Theravada, developing love* is important (it is a divine abode (brahmavihara) afterall!) :)

*depending on your definition of love. Love does not equal attachment.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby theAYSays » Wed Dec 23, 2009 12:58 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:As this is a Theravada forum lets sidestep the "medicine Buddha" :)

I see this is your first post :) welcome to Dhammawheel. Have you tried metta bhavana? In Theravada, developing love* is important (it is a divine abode (brahmavihara) afterall!) :)

*depending on your definition of love. Love does not equal attachment.


Sorry, I didn't realize that the medicine Buddha was not part of Thervadin Buddhism.

Love does not equal attachment, but in this case it does. Which isn't to say that I don't care deeply about her protection, safety, and happiness; in fact I value these significantly above my attachment to her. But I believe the most good I can do for her is by being with her more, and considering she'll find romantic attachment anyway, I'd much rather her fall in love with me than someone who cannot give her the unconditional love I can.

From my understanding, metta bhavana is compassion meditation, right? I've been doing that too.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:03 am

Hi theAYSays,

I don't know much about your situation but from what little you've written the love you're describing seems less like metta than it does sensual desire and infatuation. I can't pretend to know, however, so please don't take offense but you should seriously ask yourself if the desire to be with this girl would be the same if she were an old hag (which she will be some day if she's lucky) or if she decided to fall out of love with you. Would you still want to be in love and spend lifetimes with a person who didn't feel the same. I wish you all the best and hope that you find all the happiness a lay life well lived can confer upon a person but do proceed with care and don't believe everything you feel without taking it to task. Be well.

Metta,

Mike
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:07 am

theAYSays wrote:
Mawkish1983 wrote:As this is a Theravada forum lets sidestep the "medicine Buddha" :)

I see this is your first post :) welcome to Dhammawheel. Have you tried metta bhavana? In Theravada, developing love* is important (it is a divine abode (brahmavihara) afterall!) :)

*depending on your definition of love. Love does not equal attachment.


Sorry, I didn't realize that the medicine Buddha was not part of Thervadin Buddhism.

Love does not equal attachment, but in this case it does. Which isn't to say that I don't care deeply about her protection, safety, and happiness; in fact I value these significantly above my attachment to her. But I believe the most good I can do for her is by being with her more, and considering she'll find romantic attachment anyway, I'd much rather her fall in love with me than someone who cannot give her the unconditional love I can.

From my understanding, metta bhavana is compassion meditation, right? I've been doing that too.


Be careful. In the commentaries it is advised that you don't attempt to develop metta for a member of the opposite sex as you run the risk of confusing metta for its near-enemy of sensual desire. Also, compassion meditation or development is kaaruna bhaavanaa. Be well!
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:10 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Be careful. In the commentaries it is advised that you don't attempt to develop metta for a member of the opposite sex as you run the risk of confusing metta for its near-enemy of sensual desire.

I'm not massively familiar with commentaries, but I'd like to read more :) are there any online references to this?
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby theAYSays » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:12 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Hi theAYSays,

I don't know much about your situation but from what little you've written the love you're describing seems less like metta than it does sensual desire and infatuation. I can't pretend to know, however, so please don't take offense but you should seriously ask yourself if the desire to be with this girl would be the same if she were an old hag (which she will be some day if she's lucky) or if she decided to fall out of love with you. Would you still want to be in love and spend lifetimes with a person who didn't feel the same. I wish you all the best and hope that you find all the happiness a lay life well lived can confer upon a person but do proceed with care and don't believe everything you feel without taking it to task. Be well.

Metta,

Mike


Hi Mike,

Thank you for your response! To answer your question about metta vs sensual desire, I'll go into description, because I can't say that it is classically either. I would still want to be with her even until she becomes an "old hag" and if she decided to fall out of love with me. Even if she cheated on me I would still love her.

Yes, I am attached. But a mother's love for her only child is attached too; this does not take away from the purity of the mother's love!
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:14 am

theAYSays wrote:Yep, I am attached. But a mother's love for her only child is attached too; this does not take away from the purity of the mother's love!

Mustard seed from a house where no-one has died.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby theAYSays » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:16 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:
theAYSays wrote:Yep, I am attached. But a mother's love for her only child is attached too; this does not take away from the purity of the mother's love!

Mustard seed from a house where no-one has died.


Death is inevitable, but can be postponed by improvement of health. Which can be done physically as well as spiritually. Which gets me back to my question of what else I can do to help cultivate my relationship.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:20 am

Greetings Mawkish,

Mawkish1983 wrote:I'm not massively familiar with commentaries, but I'd like to read more :) are there any online references to this?


Whether this particular section is online or not I'm not sure, but this is covered in the Visuddhimagga.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:23 am

theAYSays wrote:what else I can do to help cultivate my relationship.

Are you asking us for relationship advice or for advice about differentiating between attachment and love? We can probably help with the latter... maybe an agony aunt could help with the former?
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:25 am

retrofuturist wrote:this is covered in the Visuddhimagga.
Thank you Retro :) that's another one for the research list
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:28 am

Mawkish,

Sorry but I lent my Vissuddhimagga to a friend and don't have it at hand. But Retro's right, it's definitely in there. Be well.

Mike
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.
-Dhp. 183

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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby theAYSays » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:29 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:
theAYSays wrote:what else I can do to help cultivate my relationship.

Are you asking us for relationship advice or for advice about differentiating between attachment and love? We can probably help with the latter... maybe an agony aunt could help with the former?


Haha what's an agony aunt?

I am always open to relationship advice. I'm a Buddhist, but very much a Confucianist as well, so the most important thing to me in life is relationships (friendship, marriage, family, whatever). Anything you have to offer will be appreciated.

In terms of differentiating between attachment and love? I think they are two different elements that are neither mutually exclusive nor intrinsic. And I am feeling both. Though, after I wrote that I would still love her even if she cheated on me, I think I felt a sense of peace because I realized nothing in the conditional world could keep me from loving her.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Mawkish1983 » Wed Dec 23, 2009 1:39 am

theAYSays wrote:In terms of differentiating between attachment and love? I think they are two different elements that are neither mutually exclusive nor intrinsic.

The near enemy of metta has already been mentioned. I, for example, am happily married and feel strong feelings of love (I think) and attachment for my wife. Deferentiating between the two and discerning what is love and what is the illusion of love is something I am yet to achieve. I'm working on it. I have not doubt at all that the Bodhisatta loved his parents completely, yet he left them to become a sramana (spelling?). Myriad lifetimes of developing the brahmaviharas must have helped. When he attained enlightenment he was so unattached to the world that he famously had to be asked to teach the Dhamma, having no desire of his own to do so (another thread here somewhere discusses this).

I am sure you and I are a long way off this level of perfection, so we must make do practicing to develop the brahmaviharas more and more.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby theAYSays » Wed Dec 23, 2009 2:10 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:
theAYSays wrote:In terms of differentiating between attachment and love? I think they are two different elements that are neither mutually exclusive nor intrinsic.

The near enemy of metta has already been mentioned. I, for example, am happily married and feel strong feelings of love (I think) and attachment for my wife. Deferentiating between the two and discerning what is love and what is the illusion of love is something I am yet to achieve. I'm working on it. I have not doubt at all that the Bodhisatta loved his parents completely, yet he left them to become a sramana (spelling?). Myriad lifetimes of developing the brahmaviharas must have helped. When he attained enlightenment he was so unattached to the world that he famously had to be asked to teach the Dhamma, having no desire of his own to do so (another thread here somewhere discusses this).

I am sure you and I are a long way off this level of perfection, so we must make do practicing to develop the brahmaviharas more and more.


Yes, we are all a long way off from that great level of cultivation.

If you look at both Mahayanan and Thervadin scriptures, you'll find that the Buddha has compassion for even the 'less noble' or worldly desires of others. Plenty of times has he expounded on what kind of attitudes and karmas will result in worldly goods, such as familial happiness, government positions, health, or even material wealth! So clearly these things are not antagonistic to Buddhist practice.

I think this 'worldly' desire of mine is far more pure than attaining fame or wealth. And health is merely a vehicle towards happiness. Also, she's a Buddhist too, and I would certainly help her towards attaining enlightenment. Mahākāśyapa and his wife were married lifetime after lifetime because of the good they did in propagating Buddhism; that's something I want myself and my hopefully-future-wife to find.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Monkey Mind » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:09 am

Isn't there a jataka story about a young lover who becomes love-sick with infatuation?
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby Monkey Mind » Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:43 am

For example, story 13, page 64, using this source:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/jataka_tv1.pdf

I don't think the story is anti-love, just anti-infatuation.
"As I am, so are others;
as others are, so am I."
Having thus identified self and others,
harm no one nor have them harmed.

Sutta Nipāta 3.710
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby theAYSays » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:51 am

The story doesn't help. I'm not going through infatuation.

Infatuation is when you aren't aware of the person's faults, where you're seeking purely for your own emotional benefit, where you aren't looking for the other person's benefit.
Last edited by theAYSays on Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In Love - what to do about it?

Postby pink_trike » Wed Dec 23, 2009 7:54 am

"What to do about it?"

Love, and bring your practice to love.
Vision is Mind
Mind is Empty
Emptiness is Clear Light
Clear Light is Union
Union is Great Bliss

- Dawa Gyaltsen

---

Disclaimer: I'm a non-religious practitioner of Theravada, Mahayana/Vajrayana, and Tibetan Bon Dzogchen mind-training.
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